The 10 Best Rookie Seasons in NBA History
When we talk about great rookie seasons of late, names like Karl-Anthony Towns, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant usually come up first. And why wouldn't they? All three players averaged at least 18.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in their first full seasons.
When we do more than just talk, though, are those three anywhere near the best rookie seasons in history?
By thinking much deeper while compiling useful and meaningful numbers, the short answer is no. Basketball Reference's win shares and win shares per 48 metrics are here to support that.
In case these terms are new to you, win shares is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player over the course of a season. As for win shares per 48, it is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player over the course of 48 minutes (the length of a typical game).
We'll reference win shares here, but win shares per 48 is what we're really concerned with because it helps adjust for the disparity in minutes from one player to another. And to provide you with a reference point, the league-average is .100 win shares per 48.
Based on this advanced metric, who then can lay claim to the best of the best rookie campaigns?